Twentieth-Century Music and Politics [Essays in Memory of Neil Edmunds]

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Recent Books on Music - 2 Twentieth-Century Music and Politics [essays in memory of Neil Edmunds] Edited by Pauline Fairclough Ashgate Publishing 292pp hardback £65 ISBN 978-1-4094-0026-4

This is all right so far as it goes, but the title implies a far greater, more numerous, series of studies more widely cast than the fifteen varied contributions on offer here, most of which - although one occasionally encounters essays on music from outside Eastern Europe - reveal that the weighting is such that a newcomer to the subject might very well feel that the main places of such interest during the last century were east and north of the Danube (understandably, given that Pauline Fairclough's main areas of interest would appear to be Shostakovich and Soviet Music).

For example, there is nothing in this book discussing politics and music in the United States - the 'New Deal' composers (I assume I do not have to list them) are completely ignored, and those subsequently embarrassing works (by no means embarrassing musically) written in honour of the Soviet Union during World War II by American composers are likewise nowhere to be encountered. The impact of McCarthyism on music (Copland and Bernstein especially) is also ignored, and when one comes a little more closer to home, the heroic nature of (for example) much Norwegian and French music in World War II (during the Nazi occupations of both countries) is also totally absent.

Going further back, to World War I, there is nothing on German music of the period (from the other side, so to speak, most notably Reger's Opus 145 Organ pieces - a musical answer to Elgar's 'War Music'), and it is not strictly true to say that German music was virtually embargoed in Britain during 1914-18 (although very much of it was), for in the Monthly Musical Record 'for May 191 5, we read that, regarding Korngold's piano music, 'the Second Sonata ... is a splendid work, whilst the seven Märchenbilder Opus 3 are great favourites, especially the 'Princess in Disguise'. …